The long arm of analytics is coming to law enforcement. Ford has announced a new technology co-developed with Telogis that will monitor the driving behavior of police officers. In fact the little black box will be like a humorless traffic cop in every patrol car.
Some police departments have already installed “black boxes” akin to those used in commercial airliners so that they can recover information in case of an accident. Ford and Telogis’s new technology takes this one step further by streaming data live.
The system is capable of sending information on speed, throttle position, braking, and even whether the officers are wearing their seat belts. It is unclear whether doughnut and coffee levels will also be monitored.
In all seriousness, Ford says it developed this technology to help cut down on traffic related fatalities. “Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of officer fatalities, and even the slightest improvements in driver training and behavior within law enforcement organizations can potentially save lives,” said Bill Frykman the business and product development manager of the product.
It is also likely that liability and cost are incentives for police departments to adopt this technology. For instance the Los Angeles Police Department which has been intimately involved in the development and testing the new technology has around 10,000 sworn officers. That is a lot of drivers to be responsible for.
Indeed, part of the argument of for the technology is that departments can not only keep track of which officers are driving safely, but which are beating the crap out of their department issued cars.
This technology may prove to be a crucial edge for Ford in recapturing police vehicle sales after the demise of the beloved Crown Victoria. As it stands, many departments seem to prefer either the Dodge Charger Pursuit, or the Holden Commodore based Chevrolet Caprice to the Ford Taurus Police Interceptor.
The ability to track/spy on the driving habits of officers, whether it is to keep them safe, reduce costs to the department, or simply to deter bad behavior may help swing some of that business back to Ford. And if the real LAPD’s driving habits are anything like their digital counterparts in Grand Theft Auto V, then this technology is badly needed.